Sponsor Day for SAE teams


Preston Davis

Left to right – Formula SAE, SAE Aero Design, Baja SAE.

By Preston Davis, [email protected]

On Sunday afternoon, The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) showed off the engineering design teams’ latest vehicles during its annual Sponsor Day.

The engineering design teams of SAE Aero Design, Formula SAE combustion, Formula SAE electric, and Baja SAE arrange a day each year to thank, meet and greet, and network with the many sponsors that support the team’s efforts. The event was held in the basement of ASEC in the student design room from 11 a.m.  to 3 p.m.

The engineering design teams compete each year in competitions around the U.S. and beyond against other schools from all over the world. The teams design, manufacture, test, analyze, and improve until they have a winning combination.

But the teams could not do it alone. With the help of generous donations from many sponsors, the teams are able to explore options and ideas that otherwise may have been unfeasible.

Sponsors provide diverse contributions to aid in the teams’ successes including monetary donations, materials, manufacturing support, logistics, and more.

In addition to the support the sponsors provide, many teams and students are able to develop a professional relationship with companies. Some students are able to co-op or are even hired full-time upon graduation as a result of working with the sponsor.

Elizabeth Clifford, third-year mechanical engineering student and co-captain of the Baja SAE team, has been a member of the team for three years now and has seen the team grow and achieve more success each year. Tyler Elfers, fourth-year mechanical engineering student and co-captain of Baja, cites that his team has been able to capture nine top-10 finishes in the past two years.

The highlight of their season was a third-place endurance finish at the Rochester competition in June 2016.

One sponsor in attendance on Sunday was AeroControlex, a company specializing in aerospace components. Todd Loschelder, president of AeroControlex, showed up to Sponsor Day to see the projects that his sponsorship fuels.

Loschelder has sponsored each of the teams in different years and is very happy to see the successes of them. “It’s a great feeling to see guys and gals working on their engineering skills from team building to problem solving,” Loschelder stated.

By sponsoring the teams, AeroControlex has been able to foster relationships with students at The University of Akron. Mustafa Malik, a UA grad student and former Baja team captain, took a job with AeroControlex upon completing his undergraduate studies and has been involved with the Formula SAE team as well.

As sponsors trickled in and out of the basement of ASEC, the students were able to chat and thank them for their support. But as the day came to an end, the engineers returned to the never-ending challenge of improving their vehicles’ design, performance, and overall ability to bring home more trophies.